Monthly Archive for October, 2008

Dan: UK Flashback

Last month we flew back to the UK for two weddings. Our friends Cos & Kirsty, and Anita & Dave, were getting married in Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively. Thankfully, the two weddings were only two weeks apart – close enough for us to combine in a single trip.

Two days before Cos & Kirsty’s wedding, we flew back into Heathrow, from where we’d flown to Uganda almost a year before. From Heathrow we caught a National Express coach to Stansted airport – not a particularly romantic first experience of life back in the UK! Needless to say, the coach was both shockingly expensive and shockingly delayed. Some things never change.

We were eventually picked up at Stansted by my dad, who took us home and provided us with emergency portions of nostalgia food: tiger prawns, red wine, beef casserole with dumplings, bread & butter pudding… Mmm! Thanks Clive & Jackie, and thanks Marks & Spencer!

But there was no time to relax as we were due in Edinburgh the next day. An early start and a taxi back to Stansted quickly followed. On arrival in Edinburgh, we caught a bus to the city centre and a taxi to our friend Vicky’s flat. A few hours to recuperate and then were off in a hire car to the Brig O’ Doon in Ayrshire.

The next day was the Big Day (for Cos & Kirsty). The venue was fantastic – part pub, part hotel, and part church, all served up with lashings of Scottish charm.

p1000371.JPG

A wonderful day and night followed – it was great to catch up with so many friends over a whiskey or three. Fresh off the plane from Africa we felt like tourists in a foreign land, gazing out at sights as strange as anything on the savannah…

p1000374.JPG

And a trip to the best nightclub in Ayr rounded it all off perfectly!

Next up was a reunion with friends in Glasgow… where Grania and I first met. Reliving that memorable evening, we went out on the town with Phil & Kev, drank slightly too much, and (once again) ended up in a nightclub till the early hours.

With no time on our itinerary for a hangover, the next day saw us shuttle back to Edinburgh for a lovely Indian meal with Jenny – and another chance to catch up with yet more long-lost friends. The next few days flew by at incredible speed:

  • A quiet night together in the sleepy village of West Burton deep within the Yorkshire Dales National Park
  • Two days of long dog walks with my mum in Hebden Bridge
  • A night with Mayo and David at their lovely new house in Redbourn, sampling several different champagnes if you please!
  • Two more days of great food with Clive & Jackie

Back in London, our friend Jan was kind enough to offer us accommodation at her house in Highgate while I went back to work for two days and Grania got into some serious wedding preparation – several meetings with people from the church had been arranged and could not be avoided! Thankfully all went well and we are now a little more relaxed about it all.

Before we knew it we were on a plane once more – this time flying to Northern Ireland for Anita & Dave’s wedding… another fantastic experience. The reception was held in a particularly striking building – Belfast Castle, a fairytale tower high up in the woods above the city, perfect for a wedding.

p1000588.JPG

A few more nights in London and then we were off, flying through the night back “home” to Kampala. It was a truly exhausting, wonderful three weeks, full of strange sensations and conflicting emotions. It certainly felt strange to be back in the First World, surrounded by bazungu and paying through the nose. Topping up and touching in with my old Oyster Card felt especially peculiar, perhaps like a tourist must feel the first time he or she gets on the tube.

In fact, often during our trip I noticed myself looking at sights that previously I wouldn’t have given a second glance. After so long away, such mundane things took on new and interesting forms, in precisely the same way that seven people on a boda-boda or a road full of Ankole cattle did when we first arrived in Kampala.

p1000619.JPG

Thanks to everyone who welcomed us back with such hospitality – we really appreciate it! And congratulations to Cos & Kirsty and Anita & Dave – two wonderful couples and two very special weddings.

We’ve been back for a few weeks now and our next set of visitors have already descended. Rob has arrived and is currently dodging hippos up in Murchison Falls. If he isn’t squashed he’ll be back tomorrow. Then Vicky & Jenny fly in on Friday night and we hit the road for two weeks – to Rwanda and back! Stay tuned for the next instalment…